The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) has released data on the TV viewing trends of the country�s pre-school viewers.

In the middle of 2008, the SAARF TAMS� universe grew by over 1,6-million viewers as four-, five- and six-year-olds were included in the television viewing universe for the first time.

Kobus van Staden, research and development manager for SABC Content Enterprises, analysed the TAMS� 4+ data from June to September 2008, comparing the TV-watching behaviour of the 4-6-year-old audience with that of 7-15-year-old children.

He noticed a number of trends in the viewing habits of preschool viewers, some of which are surprising for such young children.

Ah Mom, just one more programme!

On average, 4-6-year-olds watch 1.5 hours of TV a day, while the older children (aged 7-12) watch 2.3 hours a day. Compare this to adults� 3.28 hours of viewing per day.

English and Afrikaans preschoolers however watch far more television than their Nguni and Sotho counterparts. �Where the Nguni/Sotho child watches 1.32 hours of TV per day, mirroring the average trend, the English/Afrikaans child watches 2.45 hours of TV per day,� says van Staden.

Older children aged 7-12 watch 2.26 hours in Nguni/Sotho households, and 2.42
hours in English/Afrikaans households.

Watching with the family

�With just over three quarters of South African households having an average of one to two TV sets in the house, household viewing tends to be a collective affair,� says Van Staden. �In particular, child-viewing patterns for 4-6-year-olds suggest that other members of the household control the remote.�

On weekdays for example, TAMS� 4+ data for the period analysed shows 4-6- year-old viewers watching Egoli on M-Net with their older brothers and sisters. On SABC 1, weekday viewership peaks sharply at 8pm for all children, including the 4-6 age group, who catch the popular soapie Generations with their parents.

Overall, the viewing patterns for the youngest TV viewers follow the same pattern as that of older children, just at lower levels.

During the week, preschool viewing peaks after 8pm. On Saturdays, this audience becomes available from 8am and stays stable and available throughout the day, dropping off from 9pm, a trend which is mirrored across SABC 1,, M-Net and DStv. On Sundays, child audiences tune in around 9am and start falling slightly earlier than on other days, at 8pm.

Preschoolers rule

While 4-6-year-old viewing seldom exceeds the levels seen for older children, there were certain times of the day during the period under review, when preschoolers were the dominant juvenile audience:

  • SABC 2 attracted more 4-6-year-olds than other age groups on weekdays, when Thabang Thabong was aired from 9-10am, and on Saturdays from 7-8am, when Weekend Live was aired.
  • For SABC 3, preschool viewing was dominant from 8am in the channel�s Saturday children�s block, and on a Sunday from 8-9am when the channel aired Stand Up and Timon and Pumbaa.
  • On M-Net, kids� viewing on Saturdays at 8am and 2pm was dominated by the 4-6-year-olds.
Source: SAARF, for more info, visit the website at or go to